Birmingham City Council

Mirrors - A Holocaust Memorial Poem by Jan Watts

Extract from Anne Frank's diary - January 7, 1944

“I saw my face in the mirror, and it looked so different. My eyes were clear and deep, my cheeks were rosy, which they hadn't been in weeks, my mouth was much softer. I looked happy, and yet there was something so sad in my expression. The Secret Annex, Amsterdam - December 22, 2011

Mirrors

The window is covered by a thin mesh.

You can see out,

but like then,

no one can see in.

Limited reflections

on this damp day at the junction

of the Prinsengracht and the Bloemgracht canals.


On the outside wall,

close to the window frame

is , what looks like

and probably is,

in this city of the bicycle,

a bike mirror.

Its long arm sticks out

from the building

catching attention.


In the glass,

I expect to see the twenty-first century

queue outside, waiting to enter

the poignant warmth of this frozen history.


But the mirror holds a memory.

Along the cobbled canalside,

families inhumanly labelled with that corrupted

yellow Star of David,

walk with dignity towards me.


What can I say to them?

What can I say to Anne who wrote July 15, 1944

"...this savagery will stop.... there will be peace and tranquility in the world once again”?


Yet genocide still happens in my lifetime.


When did we last look in the mirror?


© Jan Watts - January, 2012